Avatar Creation for Social VR, Part 3: Character Modeling

Note: This series is an ongoing work in progress, and the video tutorials in particular will be updated and published publicly after I have finished recording the entire series. For now, the visibility for the videos has been set to shareable link only – if you have feedback on their clarity, pacing, or even whether or not the jokes land, I would welcome it in the comments here or on Youtube.


Welcome back! It’s now time to sit down and get your hands dirty, we’re going to spend a lot of time pushing verts and pulling faces. In this section we will run through character modeling, where we start from a cube, and finish with a character mesh.

The previous entry in this series focused entirely on the technical details of how to use Blender for polygon modeling, whereas now, we get into the workflow and thought processes involved in character modeling.Unlike the other parts of this series, poly modeling really makes the most sense when demonstrated, so I encourage you to watch the video first, even if you intend to work from this written walkthrough.

We’ve got our reference planes and the mirrored cube we set up last time ready to go. The process of modeling this avatar took about eight hours, so, again – be patient with yourself, take your time, and try to have fun.


Read more: Avatar Creation for Social VR, Part 3: Character Modeling

The Torso, Legs, and Arms

To start blocking in the body, go into Edit mode, and use X-Ray to marquee select vertices through the model and position them to line up with the reference images front and side view using the move tool.

With X-ray enabled, select the verts and line them up to the reference images.

Use the loop cut tool to add a few horizontal  and vertical edge loops, and position the new vertices that were created to block in the forms of the body. 

This process should be thought of as ‘sketching’ – you are roughing in the masses of the ribcage, abdomen, and hips. Once you have those rough shapes in place, be careful not to start adding detail or trying to smooth out the curves. At this stage of the modeling process, try to use as little geometry as possible to communicate these forms.


Tugging verts to conform to the silhouette of the front and side views.

The thing I tend to be most concerned with, when modeling, is communicating the silhouette: the outer profiles of the model should be recognizable as the forms that they are intended to communicate, even though they are being represented with only a handful of polygons.  It’s fine if there are long straight edges and sharp corners at this point, as long as they “read” as chest, abdomen, and hips. 

Before extruding the legs, use loop cut to place a vertical loop close to the center of the mesh, so that there is a strip of polygons that will run between the legs.

Then, use the extrude tool to grab the faces to pull the legs out of, and extend them downward.

Selecting faces and extruding the legs.

If you watch the video, you might observe that I tend not to follow the concept art very closely – my habit is to tweak the design of the character as part of the modeling process. You’ll see me tweaking the verts as I go, to flow with the contours of the torso, following the rough shape of the abdominal muscles in front and the trapezius in the back, and make decisions about the character design as the character model starts to take shape.


Adding an edge loop and pulling it down to the bottom of the leg geometry, then extending the bottom-most set of faces down to the ankle.


To extend the leg down to the feet, I’ll use the loop cut tool close to the bottom edge of where the leg geometry is currently at, and then pulling that bottom-most set of faces downward. It’s also fine to use the extrude tool to do this – and, honestly, if I wasn’t recording a demonstration, this is what I would be doing – but it’s very easy to accidentally create what’s called non-manifold geometry with the extrude tool, so for the sake of this demonstration I’m using it as sparingly as I can.


continue to extend the leg downward by adding edge loops and pulling the vertices to conform to the contours of the legs and feet.


What is non-manifold geometry?

Non-manifold geometry, in this context, refers to duplicate vertices, edges, and faces that are superimposed on top of each other: if you click the extrude tool and hit enter (either intentionally or accidentally) without moving the extrusion handle, you will have executed the extrude command, but it will look like you just quit out of it without using it.  The result will be a bunch of geometry that is doubled up on itself.  This excess geometry won’t be easy to spot while you are working, but you will have a mess that will definitely trip you up and become very frustrating to untangle later on, as you start refining the mesh. Or, worse: you won’t discover it until you start trying to UV unwrap or rig the mesh, which is no kind of fun.

If you discover that you’ve done this, you can usually fix it by going into edit mode, select all, then use mesh > merge vertices > merge by distance. Set the distance to a very small value, like .001, and all of your stacked vertices will merge and that should solve it for you.

One extrusion to pull the shoulder out to the side

For the shoulders I’m using two extrusions – one to pull the shoulder out horizontally, then adding a loop, and sliding it up tight against the shoulder to shape the deltoid muscle.

Another extrusion to pull the arm downward, from the shoulder

The next extrusion is to pull the arm downward, rather than out to the side – this is because I know I want the edge flow for the shoulder to follow the deltoid muscle. This is also why prefer to model in a-pose rather than t-pose, the deformation of the geometry will be a little more believable when this character is animated when the edge flow follows the muscle groups like this.

In character modeling for animation you’ll often see people talking about ‘clean topology’ and ‘edge flow’ and it’s very easy to get way out in the weeds with on this subject. If you’ve got an even polygon density and stick to quads as best you can, you won’t have a lot to worry about.

Use the loop cut tool to add a few edge loops encircling the extrusion, and then position them to conform to the contours of the arm.

Again – be as sparing with the geometry as possible when sketching in the arms. We’ll come back and add more edge loops to give definition to the arms later, for the moment, we just want to make sure the chest and hips read as chest and hips, the legs read as legs, and the arms read as arms.

A lowpoly paddle-shaped chunk of geometry to stand in for the hand, until we come back to it.

For now, we are just going to use placeholder geometry for the hand. The hand is going to require a lot of special attention, and we will come back to it.

Once all the masses have been blocked in, I like to turn the reference images off, so I can see how the character is looking as a 3d object, tweak the verts a bit more and try to nudge the edge flow to roughly follow the direction of the major muscle groups. It’s very easy to get tunnel-visioned into slavishly following the orthogonal views, only to discover that you have a very boxy-looking character mesh when you turn the reference planes off.

The Neck and Head

Extrude the neck from the between the shoulders.

Another extrusion for the neck – we’re in the danger zone here because we’re extruding right on the center line of the Y-Z axes. When you extrude a face, it’s going to create a full ring of faces around it, which, in this case, means it’s going to create faces we don’t need inside the neck. Disable visibility on the mirror modifier, then delete the unwanted faces created on the interior of the mesh.

Delete the faces created inside the neck extrusion. They will be visible once you temporarily disable visibility on the Mirror modifier.

Also – because the default behavior of the Extrude tool will be to extrude in the direction that the selected surface is facing, the center line of neck verts won’t line up perfectly – you will probably see a gap in the center of your neck extrusion that needs to be stitched closed. Enable snapping and set it to snap to increment > absolute grid snap, then selecting the affected verts and snapping them back to the Y-Z plane at the center of the mesh.

Stitch the gap created in the center of the neck extrusion closed by using snap to increment, with absolute grid snapping enabled.

For the head block-in, I’m mostly relying on the loop cut tool and the knife tool. I’m being a little more careless about edge flow while roughing in the mass of the head, because I know I’m going to come back later and start punching in the eyes and the mouth, which are going to need very specific sets of edge loops around both of them. For now, I’m primarily concerned with establishing the base volume of the head without fussing too much over the cleanliness of the edge flow. We can have a little bit of n-gons, as a treat.

Roughing in the mass of the head with the loop cut and move tools.

When I come back later to do the eyes, I know that there’s going to be a sort of raccoon-mask shape of edge loops that surrounds both of them, and I’m laying the foundation for that here with this kind of visor shape that frames them.

Using the Knife tool to create a “raccoon mask” set of faces that frames where the eyes will eventually be placed.

I’ll start using the the Smooth Vertices command at some points here, which averages the positions of all the verts in relation to each other. It’s useful for creating a nice uniform polygon density, but it doesn’t care that I wanted some of those verts to stay on the center line, so I’m having to go back and stitch that hole closed again with Increment Snap.

Cutting in new geometry with the Knife tool, spacing and smoothing it out with Smooth Vertices, and then stitching the seam closed with Increment Snap.


Continue to add geometry with the Knife and Loop Cut tools and move the vertices and edges to coax them into something that is recognizably head-shaped.

About ten minutes into the demonstration, I got it into my head that I wanted to redirect the edge flow of the neck to follow the sternomastoid muscle from the back of the skull to the clavicle – which is a completely normal thing to do, but I just wound up throwing more and more geometry at a problem that I created for myself that, for the scope of this tutorial, really was not necessary.

A bad situation developing in the neck topology!

Sometimes these things happen! You start chasing detail or pursuing a vision of how your model is going to look that might be outside of your skill level, as I did here, and then realize that you’ve dug yourself into a pit that you’re not sure how to climb out of.  Eventually I wound up deleting all of the faces of the neck entirely, and used the Create Face command (the F hotkey) to rebuild the neck geometry with simpler topology.  It’s okay to make mistakes! You discover interesting things that way, and, as I said in part 1, the parts you struggle with will cement the solutions in your mind, once you figure them out.

Use the Knife tool to draw a cross-section of the ear, and then select those faces and extrude them to create the base ear geometry.

I’m using the knife tool to punch out kind of a cross-section of the ear, grabbing all those faces to extrude the ear, and then using the scale tool to squeeze the verts at the end into a point for the triangle shape. After that I’ll add some loops around the ear so I can tug it into an ear-shape with the move tool.

Adding loops to the length of the ear, and shaping the verts to a tapered point, so that the head has triangular fox ears.

I don’t super love the configuration of edges at the top of the extrusion so I dissolved those edges and then used the knife tool to create some cleaner quads.

Using proportional editing to shape the ear.

After adding some edgeloops around the ear, I used proportional editing to pull it into place, rather than trying to shape the ear vertex-by-vertex. With proportional editing enabled, the move, rotate, and scale commands now have an incremental falloff radius that you can see with the gray circle surrounding the transform widget. Click and hold to transform, and while the transform tool is active, scroll with the mouse wheel to increase or decrease the radius of the falloff. This is really useful when you are ready to start shaping the volume of the mesh in a more organic way.

The Hands

When I drew the front and side view reference images, it didn’t occur to me that at the time that I would need another one for the hands, so I drew one and imported it here.


Importing the Hand image as a reference plane and positioning it to line up with the geometry

Rather than having this one aligned to a specific axis, I’m using the move and scale and rotate tools to line it up with the arm and put it where the hand is going to be. Once that’s done, I put it in the folder with the other two reference images in the Outliner.


Select all of the faces except for the forearm and hand, and hide them by pressing H. This will make it easier to work on the hand geometry without accidentally selecting other parts of the mesh.

While working on the hand, it’s useful to have irrelevant geometry hidden.  Enable x-ray mode and select all of the faces except for the forearm and the hand, and hide them with the H hotkey.


Adding edge loops to separate the fingers

Add a series of edges that line up with the spaces between the fingers. We want to create the face the edge of the hand that the fingers will be extruded from.  Then move the vertices and edges to conform to the silhouette of the lineart.


Beveling the edges to create gaps between the fingers.

Bevel the edges between each finger.


Use the Knife tool to convert the n-gons created by beveling into quads.

They created a bunch of n-gons on each side of the hand that we will fix by using the knife tool to connect the tips of all the triangles created by the bevel.


Extruding the geometry that will become the fingers and thumb.

Extrude the fingers, and add another extrusion for the thumb.

The hands are going to be one of the parts of the mesh where it becomes very easy to spend a lot of polygons, and that’s something we need to be cognizant of here.


Adding geometry to the fingers to create an approximately cylindrical cross-section


Create a cross-section for the fingers so that they’ll read as roughly cylindrical, but refrain from throwing too much much geometry at them.

While adding this geometry, you will wind up with edges from the fingers that run back into the hands – later, we can terminate those edges into the parts of the hand that don’t need to bend as much as the fingers do. For now, there are going to be some stray n-gons while you use the knife and move tools to create the volumes of the fingers.

You can expect some tedium shaping each of these fingers. It might have made more sense to model one finger, then copy and paste it in place for the remaining fingers, but sometimes I’m too lazy to do things the easy way. I also didn’t want to overwhelm you with the number of new techniques I’m introducing you to in this video.

Add edge loops at the joints of the fingers.

Added two loops along the length of the finger where the joints are.


Selecting fingers with x-ray and hiding them to focus on the index finger.

While shaping the fingers, it can be useful to hide any geometry that you are not working on, so that you don’t accidentally select and modify unwanted components, and so that you can more clearly see the individual mesh elements you want to focus on. Recall that you can select through the visible geometry with x-ray enabled.

A one-joint pinky.

Because the pinky is so short, I’m only going to put one joint in it. You’ll see this sometimes with furry avatars that have hands that are meant to read as paws – creators will sometimes leave the second joints out so the digits are cute and stubby.


The topology of the hand, fingers, and thumb are nearing completion for now.


Continue to add geometry to build in the mass of the thumb in the same way that you shaped the fingers. 


Select the finger joint loops with shift-alt-click, then bevel them

Once the hand is legible as a hand, select all of the loops you created for finger joints by shift-alt-clicking them, then bevel those loops to split them into two, so the loss of volume isn’t as pronounced when they bend.


The final(-ish) hand topology

Now that the hand is roughed in, you can use the move, knife, and smooth vertices tools to add and shape the geometry to your liking, to clean up the topology, eliminate n-gons, and make some decisions about how you want it to look now that you can see it in 3d.

The Eyes


Create a UV sphere for the eyeball mesh

To create the eyeball geometry, switch to Object mode, then go to add > mesh > UV sphere.


Set Location XYZ to zero, if these values are not zero by default

It’s possible that the sphere won’t be created at zero – if that’s the case, make sure to edit the parameters dialog that pops up in the bottom left after you add the sphere so that the Location properties for X, Y, and Z are set to zero. This is because when we add the Mirror modifier, it will apply the mirror using these values – the local origin of the object – as the center of the mirror.  For everything to line up properly, the eyes need to share the same center as the Body mesh, which is the global origin, or world zero.


Scaling the eye geometry down, switching to Edit mode to select all, and while in edit mode, positioning the eye geometry into the head. Then, switching back to Object mode to add the Mirror modifier.


Rotate it so the pole – the top of the sphere – is pointing down the Y axis, and scale it down to approximately eyeball size.

In the Properties > Modifiers tab, add a Mirror modifer to the sphere and mirror it across the X axis.

Switch back into Edit mode, use the A hotkey to select all of the vertices of the eye mesh, and while in Edit mode, move the eye up into position.

Remember – the reason we are moving all of the components while in Edit mode is because we want the object’s origin to stay at world zero, this way when we add the Mirror modifier, the eye geometry is mirrored across the axis the same way our character model is.

Name the eyeball object Eye in the Outliner


Using the knife tool to cut in the first loop of edges for the eye socket, and converting some of the n-gons created this way into quads

Once the eyes are roughly in position, use the knife tool to start punching out holes  for them into the “raccoon mask” visor shape that stretches across the front of the face.

Use the move tool to position the eye sockets. At this level of polygon density, I find it’s more useful to use proportional editing to do this, rather than move individual verts or groups of selections.


Building up the eye topology for the primary and secondary eye loops

Use the knife tool to add geometry to eliminate the remaining n-gons surrounding the eyes, and use the loop cut tool to add additional loops surrounding the eyes. The objective here is to get a loop of quads that flows all the way around where the eye will be, with a secondary loop that envelops both eyes and runs from one side of the face to the other.


The 5 essential face loops, from cgcookie, introduction to retopology.

It’s important to have edge loops that encircle the eyes and mouth, to facilitate facial animation. Clean edge flow in these areas will make the creation of your lipsynch visemes fairly painless, and visually, they’ll read as the sounds they’re meant to be make to that much more clearly. Understanding the utility of edge loops in the face is a very deep subject that we can only glance on here, but if you do a web search for “facial topology”, you will find a wealth of material.


The snap settings for snap to face- snap to Face Project, snap with Closest, target selection include non-edited, affect Move

Once the eye loops have been roughed in, reposition the eyeball geometry, if needed, and start shaping the eyelids to conform to the surface of the eyeball.  This can be done with snap to face enabled.


Using proportional editing to position the eye socket to line up with the reference plane

It’s helpful to go back and modify the facial geometry with the reference image enabled.  In this case, dragging the eyes down to line up with the reference plane made a big difference here. Sometimes it’s hard to gauge by looking at a lowpoly model whether the character is actually appealing or not, and your concept art can help you find the way back.


Pulling the upper eyelids forward

Use the loop cut tool to add more loops around the eyes as necessary to create the eyelids. Tug those eyelids forward! The upper eyelid is a lot more pronounced than the lower eyelid.

Usually you want more polygon density around the eyes than you might assume, because those faces have to stretch quite a ways to cover the eye when they blink.

Once the basics of the eye geometry are in place, you can start adding geometry as needed to eliminate the harsh polygonal jagginess of the eye shape – straight lines can melt into curves and it’s okay to be generous with your polygon density here, since this is the part of the avatar that people will be looking at the closest.  I made an effort here to get the shape of the eye to look like something I’d draw, trying to nudge that canthal tilt as far as I can, so that we have an eye shape that is crafty like a fox.


Pull the center-most ring of edges for the eye socket back into the eyeball, and scale them down, so there are no visible gaps in geometry between the eyeball and the face

Pull those holes back and shrink them down a bit so there’s no gaps left between the eyes and lids. I’m not going to close those holes up, though – the eyes are a useful place to terminate edges from elsewhere in the face.


Making the iris concave

Flatten out the front of the eye, then make the iris slightly concave.

In object mode, select the eye, right-click on it, and select Shade Auto Smooth, which will smooth shade most of the object except where edges are sharper than a 30 degree angle by default, which will give you a nice crisp edge around the iris. This will give you a better idea of what the eyes are looking like while working in untextured grayscale.


Creating the concavity of the eye socket below the brow

There’s a concavity above the eye where the eyelid meets the eye socket below the brow, and that concavity follows in and down along the nose. It’s easy to overlook but it really makes a difference making the face believable.

The Nose

Adding edge loops around the nose and pulling it forward to give it definition and emphasis in the silhouette of the face. You can – and should – do this as much as you want.

This part’s really important. Pay attention.

The Mouth

Using the knife tool to create the base loops for the mouth, and deleting the center faces to create a hole

To create the basis for the mouth, we’re doing the same thing that we did for the eyes – using the knife tool to cut in a loop around where the mouth will go, and deleting the faces in the middle of it, to create a hole.


Cutting in the loops to redirect edge flow for the nasolabial fold

There’s two sets of loops that are necessary to start cutting in here – the first are the loops that surround the mouth itself, and there’s also a loop that runs from just above the nose, around the mouth – creating the nasolabial fold – which then passes under the chin. This nose-mouth-chin loop approximates the buccinator muscles of the face, and does a lot of the heavy lifting for facial expressions.

You might also notice in the above gif that the topology of the neck is significantly different now – I wound up just deleting most of the faces of the neck, and rebuilding them with simpler topology from scratch, rather than continue to try to ‘solve’ it.


Steering and redirecting the edge flow of the face can sometimes be a little tedious and messy

Do you remember when I said I wasn’t too fussed about the state of the topology I was creating during my first pass on the head? This right here is why. Building in the edge flow for the eyes and mouth is a fire sale, everything must go.  Blocking in the masses of the head was the rough draft, this is our editing pass.

You can see I’m dithering a bit on how I want to solve the topology here, cutting in edges to see how they feel and changing my mind, then doing it again.


Using the smooth vertices tool to spread out and average the verts of the new loops

The smooth vertices tool is useful during this process of retopologizing the face, to maintain an even polygon distribution.



Periodically you’ll see me zoom out and rotate the model back and forth so I can get an idea of how it’s looking in 3d. Once you’re satisfied with the edge flow, you can use proportional editing to sculpt the shape of the muzzle and mouth to your liking, if needed.

Take a moment to appreciate what a difference your efforts in adding the edge loops for the eyes and mouth have made for the character you are working on.  You’re doing great!

The Mouth Bag

Select the two innermost mouth rings and hide unselected faces

I’ve selected the two innermost rings of faces around the mouth and hid everything else not selected using mesh > show/hide > hide unselected, because now we’re going to create the mouth bag.

There’s a lot of vulgar-sounding jargon in the universe of 3d terminology, but for my money, ‘mouth bag’ is by far and away the worst.


Extrude the loop of edges surrounding the mouth inward to create the pocket that will become the interior of the mouth

Select the loop of edges surrounding the hole created for the mouth, and extrude them inward. Add a few more loops on the inside.


After adding some edgeloops just inside the mouth, start shaping the volume of the interior of the mouth

Then use the move tool to inflate this little pocket you’ve just made to create the interior of the mouth. Switch to object mode, and enable x-ray, to preview how much space it occupies inside the muzzle.


You can preview the volume of the interior of the mouth by switching to Object mode, and viewing the model in x-ray

In object mode, as long as the character mesh as the active selection, it will outline even interior geometry, making it easy to gauge the volume of the mouth bag.The main thing to be concerned about here is making sure there is space for the tongue and the teeth, while making sure this pocket of geometry is not so large that it might accidentally intersect with the exterior of the muzzle.

Once we’re happy with the volume of the interior of the mouth, we can stitch the back of the mouth closed by selecting opposite edges and bridging them with the F hotkey, and using the knife tool to convert everything to quads.


The final shape of the interior of the mouth

We don’t need to stress about adding a lot of detail here, you want to save your polygon budget for stuff that’s going to visible, and obviously nobody going to be looking inside the mouth, for any reason.

The Teeth

For the gums, create a cube, delete the top and sides, then switch to Object mode to add a Mirror modifier. Switch back into Edit mode, and snap the verts on one side to the center, to create a blocky, mirrored U-shape.

Add some loops spanning those three faces, and rotate the edges so the U-shape bends into another U-shape, so that you have something similar what you see in the image above.

Just like you did with the eyes, select all the verts to move this up into position inside the mouth, and scale as necessary, to create the shape of the upper gums. Add more edges as needed, but bear in mind that we can keep this object very low poly, it’s not likely to be studied up close.


Simple lowpoly teeth positioned into the gums

For the incisors,  making another cube, remove the top face, and switch to Object mode to add a mirror modifier. 

Switch back to Edit mode, bevel the bottom ring of edges, and add one more loop. Tweak the edges and verts until it looks like a pair of teeth.


Duplicating and positioning the incisors

In object mode, duplicate the teeth with ctrl-d, then in edit mode, select all to position the second pair of incisors, creating a set of four.


Duplicating the teeth again and stretching them to create the fangies

Duplicate those teeth one more time to create the canines, then use the move and scale tools stretching them out and tweaking them until they’re a shape that you like. It’s helpful, during this process, to have a reference image open so you can see what a fox’s teeth actually look like. This becomes even more useful when creating the bottom set of teeth, so that they rest against each other in a believable way when closed.


Get a good look at them chompers!

One thing I’m deliberately not doing when making the teeth is changing their topology at all whenever I duplicate them – don’t cut in any more edges, don’t bevel anything, just move the existing edges and verts that were already in place in the first set of teeth.  I want them all to have an identical number of verts and edges, because when we get to the UV unwrapping stage, we are going to have all of the teeth share the same UV space. This way, we can have just one tooth texture that is shared by all of these teeth.

Which, obviously, means nothing to you if you’ve never UV unwrapped anything before – we’ll get to that in part 4! – but for now, just don’t add any more loops to the fangs.


Creating the molars

I don’t want to spend too many more triangles on teeth, but I would like a flash of white in the back when this gentleman smiles, so we’re going to one long block of molars in the back here. This one we’ll make out of a new cube, adding the mirror modifier, deleting the top face, adding a few loops, and repositioning and smoothing verts and edges until it might pass as molars.


The lower set of teeth and gums in position, with the lower set of canines modified to seat inside the upper set of canines when the jaw is closed

For the lower teeth, all of the heavy lifting has been done: in Object mode, select all the upper teeth and gums, and use the Join command to merge them all into one object. Duplicate it, then switch to Edit mode.  Selected all, then scale by -1 on the Z axis, to flip it upside down without needing to rotate it.  Modify the position and shape of the lower canines, so that they rest inside the upper canines when the jaw is closed. The molars will intersect, but that’s fine, because nobody will notice.

Because there’s significantly less volume to work with in the jaw than there is in the head, it may be necessary to modify the geometry of the lower gums so that they don’t intersect with the jaw geometry. You can see in the above image that the gums of the lower jaw are significantly slimmer than the upper set, we don’t want them peeking outside of the face.

The Tongue

Adding some edge loops and using the Smooth Vertices tool will get you 90% of the way toward a functional tongue

The tongue is pretty straightforward. Start with a cube, cut it in half, add a mirror modifier, and then stretch it out so that it’s a long box.


Positioning the tongue into the jaw with X-Ray

Add some loops. Select everything and smooth vertices a few times so it melts into something lozenge-shaped. Little more geometry up front in case we want him to stick his tongue out. Stretch it so it rests inside the lower jaw.

The Tail

Adding loops to provide definition to the rear

At this point in the modeling process, my polycount for the whole avatar was in the neighborhood of 4k triangles, which is well below the 7.5k limit for a “very good” rating as a Quest avatar, so before I started on the tail, I took a moment to add some loops and carve in some more geometry around the hips and thighs, to give the butt a bit more definition. This is a critical element of fox anatomy, as I’m sure most of you know.


Using the knife tool to cut in the ring of edges that the tail will be extruded from, and moving it into position at the base of the spine

Adding the initial geometry for the tail is much the same as cutting in the holes for the eyes and mouth, though it’s not necessary to surround it with edge loops.  Place a hole at the base of the spine, and give it 6-12 edges in total, so that the geometry extruded from that hole will be approximately cylindrical.


Extrude the edges surrounding the hole you created to create the basis for the tail

From here, you just need to stitch the hole at the end of the tail closed with the create face command – the F hotkey, and then add loops and modify the geometry of the tail with the scale and move tools,  to give it the graceful curve and volume of a fox tail.

Shaping the mass of the tail

Gravity is going to be pulling the fur of the tail downward, so the curves of the tail should be more pronounced on the bottom than on the top.

The Toes

Extruding the toes, and then softening them with the extrude vertices tool

Select the faces at the front of the foot to extrude the toes from. Run the smooth vertices tool on the selected faces to round out the toes.


Beveling the edges that separate the toes

Just like the fingers, we want a little bit of space separating the toes, so select the edges between them and bevel them.  The bevel tool will create some excess geometry at the vertices at the end of each of those edges, but you can clean them up by selecting the excess verts and merging them by going to mesh > merge > at center, or just by pressing the M hotkey.

From here, add and modify the geometry to your tastes, until you have toes that are satisfying to you. I kept it fairly simple and did not add any more geometry than this, as I plan to communicate the feet largely through textures.

Mesh Refinement

Adding geometry to the under-developed regions in the arm and upper back

There are some areas of this mesh that didn’t get a great deal of attention during the initial block-in, but now that the model is functionally “finished,” and we have a much better idea of where we are at with our remaining polygon budget, we can afford to add detail and improve the mesh definition in these areas. 

Look for “stretched” polygons and add loops to give those regions a more uniform polygon density.  Also look at the silhouette of your model and anywhere you see harsh corners or long straight edges, feel free to add additional edge loops, or bevel existing edge loops to soften those jagged edges out.

This is kind of the “draw the rest of the owl” stage of modeling – I don’t have a whole lot to say about what, specifically, you will want to do next with your character mesh, as all of the decisions I made about the model past this point have to do with redirecting edge flow to better conform to anatomical musculature and bone and joint placement, as well as using proportional editing to sculpt the existing geometry to my liking. Both of these are things that are best learned with time and practice. 

You could stop here, if you wanted, and continue on to Part 4: UV Layout, or you can spend as much time as you want here tweaking and tuning your topology to your tastes.


What a handsome man!

My goal for this mesh was to stay under the 7.5k triangle limit for an Excellent rating as a Quest-compatible avatar, and by the time I was finished I had topped out at about 6k triangles, which left a bit of breathing room for accessories like hair, claws, pawpads, etc. 

We will go back in and create a much higher poly version of this avatar for PCVR users, but before we do that, we’re going to lay out the UV’s for this model, as they will provide the basis for the UVs of the PC version. You’re doing great, and I’m really impressed that you stuck it out with me this far.

I will see you in Part 4!

Avatar Creation for Social VR, Part 3: Character Modeling
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